Top 10 Soul Bands
Written by Jacob Uitti for D List
Seattle is one of the most soulful and funkiest cities in the country, especially musically. We have a plethora of bands beautifully bearing their hearts, minds and dancing feet to packed audiences all around town and beyond. As a result, we thought it best to cull some of these amazing artists and bands in one list, to share their talents all together. So, without further ado, here is a list of the top 10 to help you find your soul in Seattle.
Industrial Revelation: Their LP, Oak Head (produced by Dave Abramson), was one of the best albums to come from the town in 2013. This Seattle four-piece, comprised of D’Vonne Lewis, Evan Flory-Barnes, Ahamefule J. Oluo and Josh Rawlings, have so much musical experience under their belts it’s mystifying. Evan and Josh played on M&RL’s The Heist as two members of The Teaching, Aham’s pop opera, “Now I’m Fine,” received many accolades and Lewis has drummed with just about every musician in the city. If I were to pick one band to keep watching from here on out it would be I.R.
Get ready for Industrial Revelation to turn up jazz: ‘Oak Head’s’ roots go deep
Written by Carol Banks Weber
The songs they played were beautiful, dramatic, psychedelic, funny, funky, swinging, punchy. So much breadth in a single tune; many were multi-movement pieces of six or eight minutes that would sojourn in unexpected interludes before returning triumphant to a principal theme. They had names like “No Tears for a Wolf” (an Oluo original) and “Shadowboxing in the Wind” (by Lewis). By the end of the set, Oluo was in his undershirt and the other guys were sweating through their sweater vests.
–Jonathan Zwickel, City Arts, January 26, 2013
Photo by Daniel Sheehan
Something’s happening in Seattle’s underground. While visitors and locals flock to see the usual rotation of aging hit-makers, Grammy darlings, and critics’ choices, serious young musicians are making a dent making real music together in the true spirit of jazz improvisation and collaboration. They’re at the late-night dives, janky clubs, each other’s basements, when they’re not doing time on major stages of major venues amassing accolades and awards, simply for the pursuit of honest music.
They don’t come any better than Industrial Revelation. Comprised of established, young, and hungry musicians who are tops in their field, this garage-jazz quartet already hooked a legion of fans a decade ago. Drummer D’Vonne Lewis (McTuff), grandson of Seattle R&B legend Dave Lewis, put together this group to have fun, yeah, but to go far and change the face of jazz.
He gathered Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Award winner Evan Flory-Barnes on upright bass, Town Hall’s inaugural 2012 Artist in Residence Ahamefule J. Oluo(trumpet), and another Golden Ear recipient, Josh Rawlings (piano/Fender Rhodes) for this not-so-small task. They’ve actually been together jamming it out for about 10 years, gathering a cult following of fiercely devoted fans with every heart-pounding gig and live recording (three to date).
Last year in October, they released their first serious studio album, “Oak Head,” named after the isolated cabin they were holed up in recording for two spring days. Known for the intensity of their powerful, mood-shifting live shows, as they completely get engrossed in the progression of each song, this new release is only a bit of a departure in that Industrial Revelation tried to keep all that energy contained to serve the truth of the deeply melodic, deeply conscious, deeply personal music.
This album just might catapult them to the crossover mainstream.
The eight songs are either from their routine playlist or new stuff that rose up on the spot in the cabin studio. Most uniquely, all of it’s based on melody, experimentation, and truth. “Sincerity is the absolute ripest playground for experimentation. The idea that the two are at odds is a myth. It’s all about balance,” Oluo explained. “The more you stretch to the experimental ends of music, the more you have to embrace the humanity of music. The taller the tree, the deeper the roots. The roots of this album go deep.”
“Want (within)” reflects the roots of soulful melody. Rawlings holds the key as Oluo makes his plaintive statement in tentative, rich notes, and Lewis draws from an almost military precision on the snare.
“Waking (without)” ventures into avant-garde territory as the form literally shakes, snaking around Oluo’s last vestige of sanity in his brassy, almost second line fatigue.
“The Lake” features percussionist Lewis and bassist Flory-Barnes laying down the emboldened jump tracks harkening the ska punk of No Doubt and Dance Hall Crashers until Rawlings comes in on his Beatles-esque Rhodes and Oluo on his trumpet slapping that ‘60s psychedelic rock vibe. Oluo then masterfully mashes the 1960s acid rock with the 1990s ska scene seamlessly.
“Shadow Boxing In The Wind” showcases Lewis as quite an inventive, offset percussionist, Oluo as a lyrical finisher on trumpet, and Rawlings as a Rhodes scholar, keeping that constant line, yet moving an undulating, untempered ‘70s situation forward in whirling skirmishes. This is Industrial Revelation at its best; one can only imagine the fiery lava of the band doing this live for way longer than 5:48.
“Color Of Caliman” starts off almost as a retro-re-issue, as spoken by one of the jazz masters from the golden era, come back to earth after a century to show the new and aspiring musicians what’s possible. Oluo conjures up the spirits of all the late horn masters in this wonderfully inspired, contemplative piece that dares speak on a gentle social platform.
The first single off the album, Flory-Barnes’ “Saying Goodbye (to rainbow socks and hair dye),” strikes off what the band refers to as an “obsessive melody” played on Oluo’s flugelhorn, while the others flit around the bass like fireflies. Mostly improvised on the spot in that cabin studio, it’s a sweet jewel box.
Is this strictly jazz? Who cares, it’s close enough, but more importantly, it’s a close approximation of the future of jazz in the use of stylistic influences, an abundance of shifting moods and conscience struggles, and always, that collaboration confluence. “It’s a jump-off. Even though we’re four albums deep, Oak Head is just the beginning,” Lewis promised. “With our earlier albums we were still growing, you know? Finding our focus. Now we can really get it going.”
Expect an Industrial Revolution. The band hits all the outside spots this month, including Eastlake’s Lofi Performance Gallery, 8 p.m., February 21, and Capitol Hill’s World of Beer, 7 p.m., February 22.
Live Tonight: Shannon and the Clams, Maldoggies Family Christmas, Industrial Revelation & More!
Written by Azaria C. Podplesky with the Seattle Weekly
Industrial Revelation is not your grandparents’ jazz quartet. Sure, the band’s latest, Oak Head, finds Ahamefule Oluo playing the quintessential smoky-jazz-club trumpet riff (especially on “Victorious Kite” and “Color of Caliman”) and pianist Josh Rawlings tickling the keys while drummer D’Vonne Lewis and bassist Evan Flory-Barnes set a smooth pace. But the group also infuses its classic jazz sound with elements that are just left-of-center, like up-tempo swing on “The Lake” and [distorted Fender Rhodes] on the experimental “Shadow Boxing in the Wind.” This mix of classic and avant-garde gives the album both a spontaneous and coolly composed tone.
Jazz that fucks with punk, soul, pop, rock, and hiphop.
The catchiest tune of the year, “Saying Goodbye (to Rainbow Socks and Hair Dye),” at the Genius Awards.
One night while watching D’Vonne Lewis playing with a trio at the Vito’s lounge, it occurred to me that he just might be the most talented musician in Seattle. Raised by a family with deep roots in Seattle’s black American musical tradition, Lewis, a jazz drummer and the founder of the quartet Industrial Revelation, is not only a highly refined drummer, a drummer who has a complete command of his instrument, but also a drummer who has somehow managed to preserve at the core of his technical brilliance something that is like the initial, primal pleasure of the act of beating. If one listens to the great jazz drummers of the canon (Elvin Jones, for example), this raw instinct is pretty much gone. Theirs is a drumming that aspires to begin and end with mastery. Lewis, on the other hand, never lets his technical prowess completely erase the path that leads all the way back to that first joyful moment when one hits and hears the tautness of a drumhead. This is my impression of his musicianship in general and also the reason why I think he stands above all other players in this rocking city.
Lewis founded Industrial Revelation in 2005. It was, he once told me, the R & D (research and development) wing of his jazz career. And as a company or a country must subsidize its risky, failure-prone R & D programs, Lewis subsidized the time he spent on IR with income generated from his professional gigs. He had no idea where IR would go, what kind of music they would finally make, or whether it would work out. He just wanted the band to be as open as possible to different styles and ideas, and he placed it at the center of all of his other more traditional obligations. Nothing, he said to me again and again, was more important to him than IR. And as it was at the center of his career, he is at the center of the band’s sound. This, I think, is one of the important elements of IR’s greatness. It has its foundation in a drummer. And with black music, it is always drumming that separates one genre from another. We know house from the “four-to-the-floor” beat, classic hiphop from the “boom bap” beat, go-go from the go-go beat. The drum style names the music.
Nine years after forming this R & D program, Industrial Revelation won a Stranger Genius Award. The achievement is all the more impressive because the other nominees, Erik Blood and the founders of Hollow Earth Radio (Amber Kai Morgan and Garrett Kelly), were very strong contenders for the prize. Certainly one reason Industrial Revelation prevailed is that Lewis’s R & D project is not just about him but is instead a creative collaboration with three other extraordinarily talented local musicians. IR might begin with Lewis, but it does not end with him.
The band’s bass player, Evan Flory-Barnes, is a giant in his own right. One will spend a lifetime trying to find a jazz musician in this town who has something bad to say about Flory-Barnes. And with good reason. This bassist has achieved a level of mastery where the boundary between the musician and the instrument is practically absent. Indeed, one cannot even imagine Flory-Barnes doing anything else but playing the upright bass, and can’t imagine the upright bass doing anything but Flory-Barnes. This is not empty praise. Anyone who has watched him perform knows what I’m talking about. Like Lewis, Flory-Barnes has a reputation that’s firmly established outside of IR.
The same is true for Josh Rawlings, the band’s keyboardist. If you have not heard him play with this or that local jazz or soul act, then you have certainly heard him perform with the biggest name in hiphop today, Macklemore. But if you really want to hear the deep roots Rawlings has in America’s classical music (jazz), I really recommend downloading the Josh Rawlings Trio’s Climbing Stairs, which was released in 2008 and, judging from Rawling’s liner notes, was a kind of musical dissertation of his education at Cornish College of the Arts.
Then there is Ahamefule J. Oluo, the band’s trumpet player. What this musician and composer brings to the house that has its foundations in Lewis’s drumming is a sound that’s at once passionate but expresses a great amount of sensitivity. I might be wrong about this, but I think there are primarily two types of jazz trumpeters: those who blow outward and those who blow inward (Freddie Hubbard represents the former, and Miles Davis the latter). Oluo’s playing does not blend the two but instead moves between them from moment to moment, from track to track. Oluo is also a talented composer, a fact that was made clear at his 2012 Town Hall performance of his musical Now I’m Fine. (On the Boards is presenting the musical again this winter—December 4 to 7.)
It’s safe to say that without the contributions of these three musicians, the man who I believe just might be the best musician in (let’s expand the area) the Pacific Northwest would not have won the Genius Award in Music.
Industrial Revelation – OAKHEAD: If “new & exciting” is something you’re seeking diligently in your musical experience, I can tell you that this group is IT, folks! Tunes like the rabble-rousing “The Lake” will smoke yer’ socks & set yer’ mind on fire! What’s key about this great jazz quartet is that they’re playing music today that will set the standard for tomorrow. I had the privilege of hearing them live at Rhythm & Rye, & dashed off a LIVE SHOW review immediately, & I can tell you, that doesn’t happen often… usually, I want to hear the band a couple of times before writing about them (look for an upcoming INTERVIEW with them, too). My personal favorite on this outing was the totally moving, as in rhythm, “PlaceSaver“… every beat, every note is “right on time”! I give these folks (D’Vonne Lewis – drums; Evan Flory-Barnes – upright bass; Ahamefule J. Oluo – trumpet; Josh Rawlings – piano / fender rhodes) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00, which means they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best original music” Get more info about the band at the Industrial Revelation site (& tell them we sent you)!
Written by Jonathan Zwickel, City Arts
Industrial Revelation wrecks expectations.
The night tilted toward unpredictable as Industrial Revelation took the stage at the old Comet Tavern, with its broken-down bar stools and broken-down barflies and bouncer missing a tooth taking cash at the door. Clad in ties and polite pastel sweaters, the band had come to play their music at this fraying dive, but the Comet would not accommodate the band without incident.
They started their set a quartet: trumpet, Rhodes electric piano, upright bass and drums, blasting a song that built delicious tension and rose to a golden climax. The Rhodes hummed like an engine at cruising speed, the horn shone like a solid beam of light, drums percolating and distinct, bass alert and proud.
Too proud, maybe. In an instant, something happened, and Evan Flory-Barnes, the big man on the big instrument, suddenly held the neck of his bass at a wrong, violent angle, cracked from its wooden shoulders. He all but dropped the shambles to the floor like a throttled corpse and, ashamed of what he’d done or just mad as hell, ducked off the stage and bolted out the front door. The remaining musicians played on, indifferent to the absence, insistent even on erasing it with more sound for the next 40 minutes.
This, I realized, is the best rock band in Seattle.
Ferocious and loud, with messy feelings all driving at a specific pinpoint of an idea through a process of sonic expansion and contraction, so intent on expression that breakage may occur.
That was in January 2013. In the fall, IR released their third full-length album. It proved the point: These guys fuck with expectations.
Oak Head refines the unhinged energy of their live show, tames it into a more fluid ride. It’s mixed and engineered, a shave of the stubble that might otherwise roughen a live set. But even with its trad-jazz instrumentation, Oak Head rocks (thanks in no small part to Josh Rawlings’ scuzzy, filtered tone on the Rhodes). In this case, it rocks with an instrumental precision and intimacy native to trained jazz guys playing as aggressively and intuitively as any musicians in the city.
At the release of the album, IR left for tour. They spent 10 days circling the Northwest and then returned to Seattle and played a welcome-home show. That night at Vermillion—another unconventional venue melded to IR’s unconventional music—the band was even stronger, bolder than before. Songs from the album were intensified and augmented from the recording. The room echoed, pressurized with kinetic energy, breezy with release.
Industrial Revelation embodies jazz; jazz is meta-musical, embodying everything else. And so IR rocks. But really they’re just virtuoso musicians playing risky and loose. They are a joy to hear. They slide around the music scene, doing the thing they do, mercurial and misplaced and unsung. As outsiders, they fit right in.
Choice, Recent Local Releases (Oak Head CD Review)
Written by Bryan Lineberry, Earshot Jazz
“Industrial Revelation’s latest release, Oak Head, recombines the efforts of renowned, all-round-town musicians D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Evan Flory-Barnes (bass), Josh Rawlings (keyboards), and Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet) for a deeply sincere head-bopping, foot-tapping listening pleasure.
Much of the album has you slipping on your dancing shoes. “The Lake” puts an infectious upbeat rhythm into your body, pushed by Lewis’s swingin’ toms and Flory-Barnes’s jumping bass lines. “Saying Goodbye (to rainbow socks and hair dye)” shows IR’s willingness to step back and let their music breathe on its own. It’s that song you’ll hear in your head while driving home late at night, lost in reflection of events playing again and again in your mind’s eye, never wanting to let them go. The tune is by Flory-Barnes and manifests through an egoless, largely improvised line of musical communication led by the reflective flugelhorn of Oluo. Each member understands the weight of their own voices here and lets Lewis’s groove carry them from there.”
Seattle’s Most Outstanding Musical Artists of the Year
Written by Mark Baumgarten, Seattle Weekly
The following is an excerpt of the article:
“Anchored by the deft drumming of Seattle rock ’n’ roll royalty D’Vonne Lewis (his father was R&B legend Dave Lewis), garage-jazz band Industrial Revelation revels in lengthy and often slashing jazz deconstructions from organist Josh Rawlings, stand-up bass player Evan Flory Barnes, and trumpet player Ahamefule J. Oluo. But what put the band over the top this year was Oak Head, its third album and one that bravely challenges the group’s strengths. The band plays conservative with its talents here while dipping into numerous styles including modal jazz, funk, and Dixieland, but in that restraint is a sense of cool befitting one of the great jazz combos in the history of this city, which is exactly what IR is.”